Play school

16 Mar

play_school_au-showWe’ve been talking about learning from history. Let’s forget history for a moment and talk simply about learning. Wherever, however, the easy way (is there one?!) or the hard way, learn we must. We will never graduate beyond the disciple stage to find ourselves no longer in need of learning.

When we stop and think, there is so much to learn. In no particular order, and certainly not a complete list, we have:

  • relational stuff, like how to be a better parent / spouse / colleague / neighbour
  • life-skills, managing our own emotions and reactions to the world around us
  • general understanding of the world that we live in – not just a collection of useless facts but information that helps us to play a meaningful role and find security in our particular society
  • stuff we need to do whatever we do better – whether we call it our job, ministry, daily activity
  • fun things, that keep us healthy as people – whatever floats your boat, be it knitting, learning Chinese, music… the choice is pretty much unlimited
  • stretching the boundaries – avoiding stagnation by learning something new, different, “out there”
  • spiritual wholeness -developing transparency and understanding, “how to” walk closer with God, new “facts” that undergird our relationship with God (Bible knowledge and all that stuff!)

scavenger-huntJust how do we learn? As one involved in education – in teaching and training others, as well as a commitment to life-long learning for myself – I am interested in the process as well as the content of learning. So in my abundant spare time (yes, for the Sheldons of this world, there was just a hint sarcasm there!) I have been trying to learn something a bit different and in doing so learn about how we learn.

Firstly, how we learn and the concept of gamification. Whilst not a new concept, it is a new word, not liked by some, but which essentially means the “use of game thinking and game mechanics in a non-game context in order to engage users and solve problems” ( It’s not a question of learning without any effort at all, like the “Learn Italian in Three Weeks without Trying” sort of programmes that we are offered. No. Learning does require discipline and can at times be sheer hard work. But the motivation that can be harnessed through game-style approaches to tasks can encourage the investment of time and energy needed to learn effectively. Learning does not have to be mere slog.

fplogoSo, I’m getting some first hand experience in the concept whilst learning something new in the process by taking part in an “online scavenger hunt” run by Firepole Marketing. The idea is to learn something more about the digital world in which we live and how social media are transforming the way people relate. Marketing might seem a strange subject to learn about when I am not exactly selling much, but it is more to do with the fundamental transformation in the way people process information and relationships through the internet and social media and seeing just how that applies to me as a person, the things I do, and the ministries I am involved in. I guess I cannot see how I can stay relevant, and thus help church be relevant too, in the world of today without understanding better the huge shift in mindset and behaviour that the current technological revolution is imposing on us. Might even be fun too!

One of the activities focuses on building relationships with other bloggers, particularly through guest posting. I have my first guest post on Ann Marie Thomas’ blog – more about her another time – and hope to have a few others in different places over the coming weeks. I will also be hosting a couple of guest posts on this blog.

In the meantime, what do you reckon? Can we learn by playing? Or is it all just a load of hype that simply tries to avoid the graft that is needed to learn something well? And if we can promote learning through “play”, what does that mean for us in the church? Do share your thoughts in the comments below.

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